Now that the State Department has announced that TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline would have no major environmental impact, President Obama should approve it and take steps to encourage additional pipelines to bring oil from new sources of production to refineries and consumers. The February 13 rail accident in Vandergrift, Pa., where 21 tank cars derailed, spilling 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of Canadian crude oil, underscores the need for more pipelines.
Building more pipelines would make the transportation of oil faster and safer. Petroleum production in North America is now nearly 18 million barrels a day, and could climb to 27 million barrels a day by 2020. Whether the oil is produced in Canada, Alaska, North Dakota, or the Gulf of Mexico, it will be used all over the continent. So the question of how to transport oil safely and reliably is not a transitory one linked only to Keystone XL or other pipeline controversies of the day.